Thursday, 25 June 2015

APTWARE - A visit to a unique studio

APTWARE 

Illusive hand-made French faience pottery named after the town of Apt where it originated.


As we are visiting Provence at the moment,  I managed to persuade Mr R-I and my daughters, to accompany me to Apt on a search for Aptware.  This marbleized faience pottery,  so popular in the US, is very difficult to come by.  I have, over the years,  frequently searched Ebay and other sites in vain.  This pottery originated in mid-18th Century in the town of Apt and the secret to creating the marbleized melange of colours is closely guarded.  

We were so fortunate in being invited to meet an old gentleman who after thirty years,  still makes this beautiful pottery on a daily basis.  Together with his son and wife,  they produce the most beautiful tableware and having a peep into the Atelier was such a treat.  We were shown the various techniques involved in creating these unique pieces.  However,  the exact process involved in creating this marbleized effect,  was not disclosed.  How wonderfully quaint  that after all these years such a unique and beautiful art form is still honoured and handed down and carried out in this little studio. 

One of my grand-daughters accompanied us and was delighted to meet two of the cats that lounge around the tables in the studio!


Carefully placing a newly formed piece on the shelf to harden off for a couple of weeks, before the final glaze.

Rolling the clay (already containing the marbleized colour) between the two guides, ensuring it remains even on all sides.


This photo shows the clay before final glazing on the right and the final product colour on the left.

The kiln is surprisingly small

A plate which has been allowed to harden off on the mould for a week,  before being moved for further hardening on a nearby shelf.  This clay will end up being the blue version of the Aptware which we were told is the most popular colour.

This part of the process involves pushing the clay into the surrounding groove of the mould.  This provides the cream contrast band.

Monsieur Rigo carrying the rolled out clay to his work station,  where he will lay it over the mould, on top of the contrast band already inserted.


The next process involves 'washing' off the clay with clean water.  It was astonishing to see the colours showing through after this process.





Next,  the outer edges of the rolled clay are folded back in line with the contrast band.



The folded edges are then smoothed off using a sponge and water.

The plate shown above,  is the finished product.

Another completed platter, before the final glazing.

Monsieur's son slicing off the unwanted edges, once the plate has hardened off after two weeks.

The contrast again of the unprocessed clay with the final product... in this case,  a very pale milky green which was beautiful.
Below are more photos of  completed pieces. 





They call the colour above, 'original'.  These colours were used in all of the original Aptware and the additional colours happened later.

26 comments:

  1. Dear Jenny, This rare visit to a Master's studio is all joy ! Information on this production is difficult to find even in our Information Age. Thank you for sharing your pictures of his beautiful work and your great day!

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    1. Dear Beth ... You are so right. It has been virtually impossible to find any information on Aptware. The time in the Studio was such a delight and a privilege. Thanks so much for commenting.

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  2. What a privilege Jenny to witness a true artisan at work. I admit I did not know a lot about Aptware prior to your posting- it really is so unique and beautiful. I will be in Apt in two weeks time and will look out for it and have a better understanding and appreciate the craftsmanship involved.
    Thank you for sharing, enjoy your holiday. Your villa looks truly magical and the garden-how lovely!!
    Marilyn xx

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    1. Hi Marilyn...Thanks for the lovely comment!... you should definitely have a wonder around Apt. It is quite an interesting town. The market there on Saturday mornings is superb. But get there early as there is limited parking! Hope you have a wonderful time.. you must be getting very excited! xx

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  3. Wonderful post Jenny - such a fascinating process, and loved all the step by steps in your photos. Thank you for posting this! The pottery is truly a work of art, and so interesting to see all the various steps. Are the pieces very expensive? I can only imagine they must be considering the hand made nature and the various steps involved in producing it?

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    1. Hello Heidi... So pleased you enjoyed the post. We had such fun in the studio (which was tiny). The Aptware is so so beautiful in reality and I am still fascinated and wondering how they achieve the marvellous melange of colours in the clay. One dinner plate is approximately E90. The specialised pieces - ie the tureens, large platters, etc are more pricey. xx

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  4. Glorious post, Jenny! So fascinating to see a master craftsman at work - and so interesting that you've been able to show many of the steps in such a carefully preserved secret process. Hope there's another generation from his workshop to take it on to the future. There seem to be fewer and fewer good pieces around in the shops, and have in the past always been deterred by the price and sometimes by the wonkiness. Quite a few of the pieces I've been tempted by in the past have had wonky bases so the platters were not level on the table. But maybe next time I'll just buy anyway if I really love a piece and it's not OTT expensive. But it does sound a bit endangered.
    PS Have neve been to Apt - is it an attractive town to visit aside from the potteries?
    Best wishes, Pammie

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    1. Thanks so much Pammie.. The old gentleman's son and his mother apparantly, all know how the process works and all have a hand in producing these pieces. I thought the large platters were exceptionally well made and although I didn't test for 'wonkiness' I saw some lying flat on the tables and they looked OK. Apt is quite a nice town to visit and there are some older parts that are very nice. The market on Saturday mornings is very renowned and we got some superb produce there last week. We will go again on Saturday, but the secret is to get there very early! xx

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  5. Such an interesting post Jenny and such a treat to visit a true artisan. It is lovely to see a person that not only uses the traditions of old but who obviously has so much respect for his craft - it is easy to understand why the pieces are more expensive than usual - so much time and love goes into each piece - just beautiful

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    1. Thanks so much Kim. They were so eager to share the process and I couldn't help thinking the Monsieur had dressed for the occasion! He was charming and gave the girls a kiss on both cheeks! His son was beaming and so thrilled!

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  6. Hi Jenny, thanks for another great post with fantastic images. It brings back so many memories of being there every summer and ordering more pieces. Thanks to you I can show friends the process!

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    1. Thanks so much Howard. It was so thrilling being there and I have begun the slow process of ordering ... my daughter speaks fluent French thank goodness but the order still needs to be finalised and hopefully nothing lost in translation!

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  7. This is incredibly stunning! I love and collect French pottery - from Quimper to the green glazed Vallauris pieces. Jenny, you've started a new addiction for me. Cannot wait to visit Provence again. Thanks for sharing.
    Cheers
    L

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    1. Thank you Loi .... It is very easy to become addicted to this beautiful pottery. It is so chic! The combinations are endless and the manufacturer is very kind and accommodating! So pleased you enjoyed the post! xx

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  8. Amazing!! I did a post a few years back and will be selling spyware from a vendor in Apt from my online shop this fall!! You are so lucky to have witnessed this special process is person!! Wow!!!

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    1. Thanks so much! It really was one of life's highlights! I felt very privileged... Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. Just wonderful!! You know I love the craftsmanship and I have long wanted to indulge in some Aptware - I may have to contact you!!

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    1. They are a truly delightful family Stacey and it was a pleasure to deal with them, although I think a knowledge of French when corresponding, would be most helpful! Please let me know if you require details xx

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  10. Wow, this is a great post Jenny. As a photographer, your photos are great -they are personal and informative; and as a sometimes ceramicist, the subject matter is fascinating and inspiring. Great work! -and thanks for sharing xx

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    1. Thanks so much Daniel - such kind words from the wonderful photographer that you are! xx

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  11. just saw a whole collection of these at Carolyne Roehms house in her blue and white china cupboards
    I am now obsessed! I Am going to make a special trip there to buy an entire set!!!!Let me know if you want anything!!! They are just divine!!

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    1. Thanks so much!... You could make this happen in a easier way by visiting La Toule la Loup in Paris and talk to Eric who works with all of these marvellous artisans... The faience in his shop are exquisite and difficult to resist. Give him my love if you do happen to get there! Also, I could give you his contact details if you need them. Thanks xx

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  12. I know I am a little late to the party but I stumbled across this during my own agate ware research. Stunning! Thank you for sharing! x

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